Vanity thought #814. Unbelievable Lord Chaitanya

Without actual experience of the Lord on a spiritual platform our minds are always open to doubts and sometimes it’s fun to entertain them just to re-examine our beliefs. Divinity of Lord Chaitanya is a prime example here.

How do we know that He was Krishna Himself?

Will the recommended reliance on guru, sadhu, and shastra help us prove it one way or another?

There’s a long list of quotations from various Vedic scriptures in support of His divinity that has been floating around the Internet since forever. It looks impressive but the trouble is that all those quotations can be interpreted differently. We see them as proof, others look at them and see something else. There’s no krishnas tu bhagavan svayam equivalent there and so devotees from other sampradayas have been having a field day disputing our conclusions.

One reason for this situation is that Lord Chaitanya was channa avatara, hidden incarnation. It explains a lot but doesn’t really help.

Okay, what about guru? I’m afraid there’s even less help there. Lord Chaitanya is a focal point of our branch of Madhva sampradaya, all our gurus are His followers, if they didn’t accept His divinity they wouldn’t have been included in the parampara. We call them gurus because they represent Lord Chaitanya as Krishna Himself.

Lord Chaitanya’s own guru didn’t declare Him to be God, afaik, but I might be wrong.

What about sadhu? Hmm, we don’t accept devotees from outside of our sampradaya as authorities on the subject and even if we asked the reality is undeniable – despite having huge respect and all, no one in the four vaishnava sampradayas embraces Lord Chaitanya as Krishna, even followers of Madhvacharya.

Another test would be phalena phala-kāraṇam anumīyate – judge the thing by result. Well, we don’t have much to show for it, if we were able to transcend the illusion and see Lord Chaitanya’s position for ourselves we wouldn’t be asking. If we talk in general terms about visible symptoms of developing devotion and say “it’s because Lord Chaitanya was God” it would be a non sequitur – devotion might just as well develop by the mercy of vaishnavas, it’s even more likely so.

We don’t need Lord Chaitanya to be God to make spiritual progress.

We can say that He contributed unique knowledge of Krishna’s intimate pastimes but that also doesn’t require Him to be God because these pastimes go on with or without Lord Chaitanya’s appearance, it’s only a matter of disclosing them to the general public.

Okay, what about Lord Chaitanya revealing His form to His devotees? That happened a few times in Navadvipa and then again He revealed Himself to Ramananda Raya, but how do we know that it actually happened? From the books? Which books? We don’t read books where these pastimes are presented in any other way so what do we know?

Even in our authorized books there are signs that not everyone accepted this particular version of events. The episode with Ramananda Raya, for example, is described differently in some other books based on the same notes of Svarupa Damodara. I don’t remember the details but it’s quite possible that it was added by Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami while other contemporary devotees didn’t know or didn’t argue. He was writing this almost a hundred years after the event.

Divinity of Lord Nityananda is vigorously defended both by Krishnadas Kaviraj and by Vrindavana Das Thakur, author of Chaitanya Bhagavata. They both went out of their way to argue against people who doubted that Lord Nityananda was Balarama Himself. We don’t know who these people were but they definitely were there and they were a lot closer to historical Lord Nityananda than any of us.

How do we know that He was God? Because Lord Chatanya said so? Circular reasoning again.

And what about what Lord Chaitanya said about Himself? There are numerous occasions where He denied His superior position, in some cases devotees were even afraid to say something like this in His presence. Why don’t we believe Him there?

Krishnadas Kaviraja always stressed that even if the Lord appeared to be angry and refused to be treated as God He was still pleased internally. It’s an acceptable explanation but it isn’t proof, if you don’t accept His divinity it looks like an excuse and not a very good one, too.

I’m afraid we have to admit our total reliance on the devotees in this matter. We don’t know whether Lord Chaitanya was God, we have no way of knowing, but we have His devotees present before us and we take their word as supreme absolute truth, there’s no other way.

This is a very important realization – that Krishna is present in this world in the form of His devotees. Holy Name, Deities, shastra – they all are accepted as transcendental only because devotees have said so. The corollary of this realization is that we’d be foolish to try and establish relationship with Krishna on our own, bypassing His devotees that reveal Him to us in the first place.

We don’t have any hope of connecting with Krishna on our own, we can’t spite the hand that devotees stretch to us. Actually it’s Krishna’s own hand, He uses His devotees to reach to us, but we see it as imperfect and reject it. Such fools.

Why? Because something doesn’t click together in our feeble brains and we don’t understand the exalted position of Krishna’s devotees? Or because we cannot accept their exalted position, what with all their visible faults?

Nah, these external things don’t matter, they will pass like bubbles on the surface of the Ganges and if we keep our faith we will eventually become purified enough to know Krishna as He is. Refusing to take a bath is not an answer.

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